When Jyothish was born a differently abled child, it was a great shock for his parents. But his mother Susan Mathew took it as a challenge to bring him up as a normal child, and also opened a school for a 100 such children. She talks to Jeena Jacob about the joy of preparing them for a normal life.
It was about 10 in the morning. The school bus carrying the children came slowly and halted at the school gate. The children neither showed any hurry to get down from the bus nor there was the usual cacophony heralding their arrival elsewhere. There was no cheer or smile on the faces of the children. A lady help appeared at the just opened door and carefully carried the children one by one and handed over them to the teachers waiting outside. They took them in their hands and walked towards their classrooms. There was an immeasurable cheer, so typical, only to a mother, on the faces of the teachers. They were holding the kids close to their heart. The principal Susan Mathew welcomed the children with a warm greeting.
It is a usual scene at Deepti Special School and Rehabilitation Centre for differently abled children, located at Manakala, a little away from the nearest town of Adoor in Pathanamthitta district.
The kids here are born with different difficulties like cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, mental retardation etc…
Susan Mathew is also the founder of Deepti Special School and Rehabilitation Centre. There was a reason for her to begin this school. Her fourth child was born with Cerebral Palsy. She had indescribable difficulty in bringing him up. “I had suffered a lot from the very first day when I came to know that our son Jyothish is not a normal child. Even after eight months from his birth, he didn’t show any positive sign as that of a normal child at that age. When doctor told us that he had done everything from his part and there was nothing more to do further, I was totally blank,” she spoke timidly in a tremulous voice.
“My husband Mathew Varghese is the one who stood beside me and gave me strength to overcome the difficulties those days. After Jyothish came into our life I had not cared much about my other three kids. Actually, they three had co-operated well with us in bringing up Jyothish,” she said.
Physiotherapy was the only recommended treatment for the child. “It was at that time that we came to know about Dr.Mani, a Physiotherapist at Cherthala. We contacted him and met him. He asked us to consult him every day for 20 minutes. But for us to travel from Adoor to Cherthala daily with Jyothish was not easy. I thought everything was going negative for us. But when I stepped out from Dr. Mani’s cabin, I was determined that at any cost I would bring Jyothish to him for treatment. Thus, Jyothish and I moved to a rented house at Cherthala and started treatment”.
“It was really a tough time. Travelling on public transport with Jyothish was a nightmare. The attitude of the people towards him was always heartbreaking. At times they looked at him strangely. For a mother to witness such negative approach is not as easy as we say it now”, she recollected those days.
At the same time Susan’s application for her thesis at a university in England was sanctioned. She, even though postponed her studies several times, decided to pursue it. “Our days with Jyothish in England were better as I found the attitude of the people towards my child was totally different.”
Now Jyothish is a 6th standard student in Thapovan School, Manakala. “Now he can feel everything happening around him. He told me recently that he liked to be in England more than here. I am happy that now he started comparing and analysing the experiences of his life”.
Deepti Special School was started in 2010 with 15 children. Now the school is a safe place for more than 100 children. “The main reason behind starting the school was the experience that I had gone through after Jyothish was born. I am a mother who knows the practical difficulties behind bringing up a differently abled kid. We have pressure from different areas, from our professional life and other responsibilities. But in between all these, we should care our child keeping apart all other responsibilities”.
“It was during the days that we spent in England that the thought of starting a school for kids like our Jyothish came into our mind. When the situations of our life came in favour of us, we realised we have a mission to take up. We saw many helping hands coming forward for this noble mission. Finance was the real difficulty that we had when we thought about the school. But many offered help”.
“I just want to say to our society to be with these kids. Don’t ignore them. Hold their hands and support them.” While saying it, Susan was trying to control her tears.
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